Thursday, November 10, 2011

Twenty Four

Twenty four years ago, when I myself was 24, I was in my last days of being extremely pregnant. I was absolutely side-show enormous, pushing past the very outer limits of maternity wear. By then, I think I lived in one of my Uncle Ben's large plaid shirts, an XL long-sleeve thermal top and black leggings with a forgiving waistband. I also lived in my Uncle Ben's former house near San Francisco State University, thanks to my parents, so it was always gray and cool, perfect weather for me when insulated by an extra 25 pounds, 9 of which, though I didn't know it at the time, were all baby.

It pleases me to count the days, to know that in just a couple, I will cross a big boundary: I will have been someone's mother for half my life. And then, every day after that, for MORE than half my life.

Other than breathing perhaps, I can't think of many other things I've done for 24 years straight, for half my life or more. OK, drinking coffee: sure, that's true. And reading books and being friends with people I've known since 8th grade (Scott, that's you) and high school (Old Joe, Frances, Lisa and more): OK, those are true, too. But still, half a life is a long, long time to be one thing, to be someone's mom, to know that that creature over there is half me, half someone-else, connected and also free, of the same cloth and yet completely individual.

There's a lot of delight in that.

Twenty four years ago I thought I was prepared for what is, essentially, something for which nothing can prepare you. I thought I knew; I didn't know shit. And yet, everything turned out great. Knowing is not essential. Preparation is helpful, but also not essential. I'm still learning to be unprepared, to leave room to be stunned, left wordless and breathless, by all that I don't know, that I can't know.

On Monday night I'll go through my annual ritual of reliving the whole experience: the slow start to the contractions, their insistence throughout the night, the early morning ride in my parents' VW camper to the hospital, The Kid's sunny birth at 2:16pm. I'll re-feel echoes of that long-ago pain, and celebrate the moment I first saw my boy with my own eyes, all 22" of him, all 9 pounds, purple feet and hands in fists, drawing that first long breath and wailing his arrival.

Happy 24th to my sweet child. Happy 24 years of motherhood to me.

It's good to be here, half a life later. So good.

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